Repeat Child Sex Offender Receives a Life Sentence
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 26, 2010|
MONTGOMERY, AL—Convicted sex offender, Ricky Randall Rex Smith, 55, was ordered to spend the rest of his natural life in federal prison for producing child pornography, U.S. Attorney Leura G. Canary announced today. Smith pled guilty earlier this year to the charge that he videotaped himself sexually assaulting minor children. In handing down the sentence, United States District Judge W. Keith Watkins noted that because Smith had previously been convicted of a state sex offense involving a minor, he qualified for a mandatory life sentence under the federal “two strikes and you’re out” law, codified at Title 18, United States Code, Section 3559(e).
Smith first came to the attention of law enforcement on New Year’s Eve, 2005, when he mysteriously walked off the job at a construction site in Ozark, Alabama, leaving behind his truck, a homemade camper trailer, and all of his belongings. Officers with the Ozark Police Department filed a missing persons report on Smith under the alias he had given his employer, only later to find out that the man they were looking for had a 1983 conviction out of Crawford County, Missouri, for sodomy of a child under 14, and that he had been a fugitive from justice for nearly 18 years. While he was on the run, Smith used numerous aliases and kept on the move, living at times in Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, California, Texas, and Alabama. He was finally caught and arrested in Louisiana in June 2006.
Months later, Smith’s former employer discovered several explicit videotapes hidden inside a secret compartment of Smith’s abandoned trailer. The FBI was notified when the tapes were found to depict children being sexually exploited. At his plea hearing, Smith admitted that he had filmed the sexual abuse of several minor children in his care, including a 3-year-old girl, and that most of the abuse occurred in May 2000 inside a house in Longview, Texas. Smith also confessed to transporting videotapes of the abuse into Dale County, Alabama, sometime in 2005.
Title 18, United States Code, Section 2251(a), makes it a crime for any person to employ, use, persuade, induce, entice, or coerce an individual who has not attained the age of 18 to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of that conduct. The minimum prison term for a violation of the statute is 15 years. In addition to his prison term, Smith may be ordered to pay restitution to the victims of his offenses. An order setting a date for a restitution hearing is expected to be issued within the next several days.
According to U.S. Attorney Leura G. Canary, “It is a priority in this district to protect children from child predators like Ricky Rex Smith, and we will continue our efforts to seek just punishment for their crimes.”
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In May 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice launched Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Dale County Sheriff’s Office, the Ozark Police Department, and the Missouri Probation and Parole Fugitive Unit. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nathan D. Stump and Brandon K. Essig.